Tampa politics: A-Rod for mayor?

Candidates real and imagined abound to replace Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. See who has a real shot at winning.

By Chris Ingram

Affable and competent Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is term-limited from running for re-election to a third consecutive term as mayor. Mayor Bob was long-speculated to run for governor in 2018, but doubled down on Hillary Clinton’s run for the Oval Office with hopes of landing a plumb assignment as Ambassador to Ireland or the Vatican (both naturals for this Lucky Charms eating Catholic).

As we all know, Buckhorn’s bet went to the house, and Donald Trump is in the White House and ol’ Bob is left to ponder what could’ve been, and what to do next.

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Lesson learned: Win first. Measure for drapes second.

Buckhorn’s dilemma is the last thing on the minds of several aspiring pols who would like to replace him.

The list of aspiring Gasparilla-keepers is longer than complaints about the lack of crosswalks across Bayshore Blvd., or potholes across city roadways. Still, political ladder climbers abound, and someone will get the job that pays $151,507 per year and comes with a dedicated Tampa Police officer for guard duty. That sounds good, maybe I will run.

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A ubiquitous Tampa pothole.

Earlier this week, one of the mayoral aspirants paid a polling company more money than it was worth to test a “sample ballot” of some of the potential candidates. The poll asked voters from a list of likely mayoral wannabes which one they liked best, if the election for mayor of Tampa were held today. For the record, it’s not being held today – or this year for that matter; in fact, it’s not even being held next year. The Tampa mayoral election will be in March 2019. Yeah. March 2019. That’s about 20 months from now, hence this poll being a waste of money. But alas, politicians with more money than brains like polls that tell them how good their sample ballot numbers are and how high their name I.D. is – unless they aren’t.

The wasteful survey gave the option to “vote” in the poll for one of six hopefuls which the geniuses behind the poll (and the unnamed candidate who paid for it) thought should top the list. The options were given in the order that follows – even though actual voter ballots list candidates alphabetically: former State Rep. Ed Narain, former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, City Councilman Mike Suarez, Councilman Harry Cohen, architect Mickey Jacobs, and former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik.

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Ten bucks you have no idea who this guy is.

It is worth noting, all of the candidates are Democrats with the exception of Jacobs (though the race is officially non-partisan, the last Republican to serve was Bob Martinez who changed parties from Democrat to Republican while in office). It is also worth pointing out that I know five of the six candidates (all but Jacobs). That doesn’t bode well for him, because I am a Republican. I also live in Tampa. If a Republican is to have a chance at winning a seat on the lowly but powerful pothole review board, much less mayor of Tampa, he needs every Republican in the city to vote for him; and even then, he doesn’t have much of a chance.

So we can start this ill-conceived survey by eliminating Jacobs from the list of real contenders.

But before analyzing the viability of the rest of the so-called field, it’s also important to consider who is missing from the list. Those names include: Councilwoman Yoli Capin; Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan (who doesn’t even live in the city); author and professional speaker Topher Morrison; and I’ll throw in lawyer and state legislative candidate Bob Buesing because I like him (and he bought me breakfast a few months ago, and I can be bought for a $9.99 omelet and cup of coffee at First Watch). Oh! And last but not least, don’t forget about former MLBA player Alex Rodriguez; he is on the list because I needed a catchy title to this column to get morons who don’t care about politics and government to read it. Welcome morons! 

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A-Rod: “You want me to run for what?”

So let’s look at who the poll’s puppet masters think is “in” and dissect them.

Of the five legitimate candidates, I like all but one of them (and I am not saying who the one I don’t like is, but if any of the them take me out to Datz for lunch I will tell them it wasn’t them).  In fact, some of the candidates I believe are, or would be fine public servants – in a self-serving, unaccomplished, egotistical, political ladder-climbing sort of way. I used to fondly think the same way about Marco Rubio. Today I see him as worse than termite dust (which I currently have in my house causing me to think Rubio may actually be better than termite dust), but that’s another column.

So here are the five analyzed:

Ed Narain – Ed is extremely likeable, is smart, has decent name ID in parts of the city, and (unlike Marco Rubio), he has a day job (albeit government related) working for a large telecom company as a lobbyist or something. Ed is a family man with really cute kids, and he has a good heart and good intentions. He would make a fine mayor. He barely lost his race to the state senate against Darryl Rouson last year. To win the mayoral race, he’s going to need to expand his name I.D., and become known as more than just “the black candidate.” If he plays his cards right, he can probably do it, but it’s going to be a challenge. Joining a Rotary Club would certainly help him in this endeavor.

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Former state Rep. Ed Narain and family.

Jane Castor – Jane probably knows the streets of Tampa better than the guy who paved them. She served for decades as an officer with TPD, and retired a few years ago as the city’s police chief. By most accounts she did a great job as chief, but she has a few scandals under her belt to explain, including the set-up of a DUI of a lawyer in the Bubba the Love Sponge case by one of her officers, as well as the whole issue of “ticketing while black” of the city’s black bicycle riders.  She’ll get past all that, but being on defense isn’t how you want to start your campaign. Castor would be the city’s first openly gay mayor (ensuring her getting the endorsement of the liberal mullet wrapper Tampa Bay Times), even though ironically she was a Republican until just about two years ago. Thanks a lot Ana!

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Former TPD Chief Jane Castor is a familiar face.

Mike Suarez – I like to kid Mike that he is Bob Buckhorn’s “Minnie me.” I’m not sure Mike likes that comparison, but I’d take it to the bank if I were him. I would also take his hair. I am mostly bald. Mike is not. I would kill for his perfectly coifed hair if I cared about having hair. Speaking of grooming, Suarez has groomed himself to be mayor. Like Buckhorn, he is affable, and that matters more than smarts in politics because voters are really shallow and stupid (see Donald Trump). He will likely present himself as an extension of the good times (less all the potholes and police scandals) of the Buckhorn administration. Like Mayor Bob, Suarez won’t embarrass the city, but he’s not exactly going to be a dynamic visionary leader either, and at the end of his term, Tampa will most likely still be riddled with potholes and flooded streets. It could be worse.

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Good natured and good hair, Councilman Mike Suarez is Buchkhorn, Jr.

Harry Cohen – Of the six candidates whom I know, I know Harry the least. Like others, he’s got good grey matter, and a grasp of the issues, but he’s not exactly the most mesmerizing candidate you ever met. But hey, neither was Pam Iorio and she did a great job as mayor of Tampa. Still, voters don’t want smart, they want fun and likable. Don’t believe me? Remember Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush. WTF! But in a multi-candidate race, Cohen could be a consensus builder and sneak to victory.

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Councilman Harry Cohen could be consensus candidate.

Ed Turanchik – Of all the candidates with smarts, Ed is the most cerebral. He knows transportation like it’s his job, and I would imagine he also has the best grasp on where to get the finest vegan and gluten-free green smoothie in the city. While that sits well with Tampa’s liberal elite, and all the fools out there who think they have a gluten allergy (doctors say less than 1 percent of the population is actually allergic to gluten, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at all the over-priced gluten-free options at swanky south Tampa restaurant menus), it might not sit well with the just-slightly left-of-center Tampa voters. Thus, it doesn’t bode well for Turanchik’s prospects that he’s more Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden. Choo! Choo!

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Former Hills. Commissioner Ed Turanchik needs to share his vision beyond rail.

So there you have it, my official analysis of the unofficial candidates for Mayor of Tampa. May the best candidate win – announced, unannounced, or pie in the sky wishful thinking rumor mongering for someone else to get in it by people like me.

Go A-rod!

Chris Ingram is a political consultant, media personality, columnist, and political analyst for Bay News 9. Follow him on Twitter at: @IrreverentView. 

 

Committed to Crist, or should Crist be committed?

Make no mistake, Crist once was a real threat. Then Republicans showed him the door following the Jim Greer fiasco, and after his multiple flip-flops on lifelong conservative positions, not to mention the infamous hug.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published Sunday, April 7, 2013

A moose is an animal with horns on the front of its head and a hunting-lodge wall on its back. So goes an old laugh line.

These days, Charlie Crist is the moose of Florida politics. He appears to be a threat for sure, though he is not threatening at all once you turn on the lights and see the hunting-lodge wall on his back.

Make no mistake, Crist once was a real threat. Then Republicans showed him the door following the Jim Greer fiasco, and after his multiple flip-flops on lifelong conservative positions, not to mention the infamous hug.

Today, Crist and his smiling face, with his perfectly coiffed silver hair, glows on billboards for ubiquitous trial lawyer John Morgan. Crist now works for Morgan’s law firm. His mug frequently replaces Morgan’s on TV, allowing Crist to maintain a high profile as he pitches being Continue reading “Committed to Crist, or should Crist be committed?”

Obama’s American vs. American campaign comes to Tampa

Sixteen trillion ($16) in debt and growing. Someday, the Saudi’s, the Chinese, and the institutional investors here and abroad who buy our debt are going to want their money back — our kids are going to get stuck with the bill.

We can do better.

Mitt Romney is far from perfect, but lets give him a chance. Obama’s theme is forward, but he’s always looking in the rear-view mirror.

Forget about “Hope and Change” or even “Forward,” this campaign is all about fear, envy, and hate — of the people who pay the bills.

By Chris Ingram

Forget about what you hear on the TV news tonight or read in tomorrow’s papers, the Obama rally in Tampa this morning was nothing but pure class-warfare, with a dose of gender politics (claiming the GOP is anti-woman), and a pinch of “Mediscare” for good measure.

Photo: Obama knows this much — this election is all about turn-out. Have you voted?

But relax…this is what desperate campaigns do when their backs are against the wall.

They also urge their people to get out to vote, and by most accounts the Democrats are doing a better job at getting their people to vote by mail, early vote, and get their people to the polls.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) went so far as to remind voters that this Sunday is “Souls to the Polls” day. That’s when the Democrat Party will be sending buses to churches (the name of the event suggests black churches), to take them to vote at early voting stations. Good for them. It’s their right.

Republicans on the other hand probably don’t need such a coordinated effort because Continue reading “Obama’s American vs. American campaign comes to Tampa”

Catching up with Dick, Rose and Bob

Recently I had the privilege of spending some time with three of the candidates who squared off for mayor of Tampa last year. They all have different strengths and styles, and each adds some spice and spark to the Tampa political scene.

I met former Mayor Dick Greco for breakfast at a local diner where the servers know him well. When I told my waitress who I was waiting on, she said, “Go back to your paper, honey; he’ll be 20 minutes.” Then we both chuckled as we watched “Mr. Tampa” work his way around the restaurant chatting to patrons as they ate their breakfast.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published February 13, 2012

Recently I had the privilege of spending some time with three of the candidates who squared off for mayor of Tampa last year. They all have different strengths and styles, and each adds some spice and spark to the Tampa political scene.

I met former Mayor Dick Greco for breakfast at a local diner where the servers know him well. When I told my waitress who I was waiting on, she said, “Go back to your paper, honey; he’ll be 20 minutes.” Then we both chuckled as we watched “Mr. Tampa” work his way around the restaurant chatting to patrons as they ate their breakfast.

Several minutes later he made his way to my table and apologized for Continue reading “Catching up with Dick, Rose and Bob”

Buckhorn discusses panhandling, the budget, the GOP convention, and Obama

Irreverent View spent an hour with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn over omelets and coffee this morning – Buckhorn ordered the meat lovers with hot sauce – a man after my own heart. The following excerpts are from our conversation.

Will he or won’t he campaign for Obama next year?

By Chris Ingram

Irreverent View spent an hour with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn over omelets and coffee this morning – Buckhorn ordered the meat lovers with hot sauce – a man after my own heart. The following excerpts are from our conversation.

Irreverent View: Like most local governments the city is facing a budget crisis, what are you going to do to balance the budget?

Photo: Bob Buckhorn with his girls in background (campaign photo).

Buckhorn: We have General Revenue funds coming in at $350 million and then we have self sufficient funds – things like parking and solid waste that are way under. The solid waste department for example is generating less revenue due to a shrinking customer base as a result of the economy. The city’s parking department is $7 million in the red due in large part because of the two parking garages in Ybor City that are just bleeding red ink. There are other inefficiencies in our parking system as well. Continue reading “Buckhorn discusses panhandling, the budget, the GOP convention, and Obama”

Ferlita endorsed by Ronald McDonald and Scooby Doo

She’s short on vision, possesses a hot-headed temperament, and apparently has an inability to tell the truth (my kid’s call that lying). Running out of steam, Rose Ferlita’s campaign is now running desperate ads that lie about opponent Bob Buckhorn’s involvement in a matter in which he had no involvement.

Okay, not really but since she’s playing loose with the facts, we are too

By Chris Ingram

She’s short on vision, possesses a hot-headed temperament, and apparently has an inability to tell the truth (my kid’s call that lying). Running out of steam, Rose Ferlita’s campaign is now running desperate ads that lie about opponent Bob Buckhorn’s involvement in a matter in which he had no involvement.

The ad claims Buckhorn was responsible for an old Tampa Police Department policy requiring officers keep their shotguns locked in their vehicle’s trunk. In its report today, The St. Petersburg Times noted the policy was in effect during Sandy Freedman’s term as mayor. Buckhorn served as an aid to Freedman. However, the Times said that the policy was Continue reading “Ferlita endorsed by Ronald McDonald and Scooby Doo”

Former Buc Clayton supports Buckhorn

Michael Clayton supports Bob Buckhorn for Tampa Mayor.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Wide Receiver Michael Clayton (who now plays for the NY Giants) expressed his support for Tampa Mayoral candidate Bob Buckhorn when the two met yesterday.

Photo caption: Michael Clayton meets with Bob Buckhorn.

Continue reading “Former Buc Clayton supports Buckhorn”